Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adding Some Zsa Zsa to Your Cardio

I am the first to admit it...during the summer, when it comes to doing cardio, my routine is so much easier. Making the most of the weather while it's gorgeous outside is my focus, so going running and playing tennis are my main sources of cardio. As the weather changes, moving my routine inside can sometimes be a challenge because I easily get bored doing cardio machines. Sound familiar?

So let's look at some ways to mix it up:

Circuit Training. If you don't have time for cardio and you really want to get your weight training routine in, then try some circuit training. This means keeping your body moving between sets with very little rest time. Break your routine down by choosing 5-7 exercises and do short bursts of cardio in between. This keeps the heart rate up and ultimately give you a better workout. You can do each exercise for 45 seconds each with a 15 second transition time into the next exercise. You will be alternating a strength exercise with a cardio move.

Here's an example:

Squat Shoulder Press
Jump Rope
Wide Grip Row
Step Ups
Bicep Curls
Burpees (push ups with a jump up)
Ball Crunches

Repeat circuit 2-3 times

Hit the Track. You can do this workout inside or outside. Depending on your individual running level, you can do as many laps around the track as you like. The key is to do something different on the straight aways and then jog/walk around the curves of the track. Some options for the straight aways are side shuffles, karaoke (like side shuffles but alternating one leg in front of the other), skipping with jumps, frog leaps, high knee jogging, or lunges (forward or lateral). If you really want to work hard, you can sprint the straight aways.

Short Bursts on 3 Machines. If you feel like you get "exercise ADD" when you're on cardio machines, you're not alone! One way to make it easier is to shorten your time on each machine to 10-15 minutes instead of spending 30-45 minutes on one machine. Changing up the programs or increasing levels will give you some variation.

Here are a few routines to get started:

Routine #1
Stepmill (or gauntlet) - Hill or interval program for 10-15 min
Elliptical - Cross Training or random program for 10- 15 min
Treadmill - Speedwork 2 min fast to 1 min jog for 10-15 min

Routine #2
Spinning Cycle - Alternating sitting and standing for 1 minute each for 10 to 14 min total. Remember to increase the resistance when you stand.
Treadmill - Walk/jog increasing incline by 1.0 every other minute for 15 min.
Ski Slide - 2 to 3 minutes sliding with one set of "climbers" or plank ups in between. Repeat 3 times.

Routine #3
Rowing Machine - 5-10 min.
Upright Bike - Hills or Heart Rate Training program for 15 min.Elliptical - Aerobic Training, Reverse, or Intervals for 15-20 min.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Deeper Look Into Shoulder Pain

If you haven't experienced shoulder pain before first hand, I am sure that you have heard someone talk about it. Depending on the severity of injury, it can take from 1 to 6 months to heal. Physicians often refer to it as a rotator cuff injury, tendonitis, bursitis, or even impingement syndrome. But what does that really mean?

The rotator cuff is actually comprised of four different muscles (supraspinatus, teres minor, infraspinatus, and subscapularis). Each has a different role in providing the shoulder joint with stability. These muscles along with others (traps, serratus anterior, levator scapula, and the deltoids) act as force couples on the shoulder blade (scapula) to move it away from the spine (or abduct) as we raise our arms. In order for the joint to function properly, these muscles should be balanced to maintain a smooth motion as we raise our arm out to the side or overhead. Having muscular imbalances involving any of the rotator cuff muscles may lead to an inability to move the scapula outward and can ultimately cause abnormal wear on the joint. As a result, pain often will occur on top of the shoulder.

So where do you start if you have been diagnosed with a shoulder injury? Whether you are working with a physical therapist or a MAT specialist, they should be able to identify what muscles are not working properly by doing a range of motion evaluation and muscle testing. According to what muscles are found weak, you can begin with corrective exercises. One other thing to keep in mind is that even though you have pain in your shoulder, it could be related to another area of the body. The trunk, spine, hips, and knees can also affect shoulder joint motion because all of the joints in your body are interrelated.
Here are some common exercises for shoulder injury prevention and rehabilitation. Any of these exercises can be done with bands or cables:

1) Scapular Retraction - This is actively squeezing the shoulder blades in toward the spine with arms in front of you, to the side or overhead. This can be done standing or even seated at your desk. A progression to this exercise would be a row (as shown below).

2) Arm External Rotation - Starting without a band, keeping your elbow at 90 degrees in close to the side of your body, rotate hand and lower arm out to side while squeezing shoulder blade in towards the spine. This exercise can be done at multiple angles and with bands as you get stronger.

3) Front Raises - Arms are straightened hanging down to sides then raised up to shoulder height.

4) Lateral Raises - This exercise is often the last one to be added in rehab because usually there is pain associated with movement out to the side. Arms are slightly bent and raised out to the side to shoulder height.